The Post carried a highly misleading article, written by an AP reporter, Dec. 28. That article quoted me out of context as saying that a proposal by Sen. Daniel Inouye that provides for construction of a school for Jewish refugees in France was a "lousy $8 million." Let me put in a more accurate context what I said.
The AP reporter called me on the House floor just before midnight, while I was preparing to lead a debate on the $600 billion (not million) budget resolution. The reporter asked how my committee could support an $8 million request made by Sen. Inouye, chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations, which the State Department opposed. I pointed out that I had been negotiating for three weeks with Sen. Inouye over an $8 billion (not million) credit refinancing item, and the State Department hadn't lifted one finger to help. Now, in contrast, it was supposedly upset about a "lousy $8 million."
I also pointed out to the reporter that the administration had written me a letter threatening to veto the entire $13 billion foreign aid appropriation because, in its view, the appropriation did not spend enough money, since we had reduced the overall administration request by $2.7 billion (not million).
Obviously, $1 million or $8 million is a lot of money, but in comparison to the $8 billion at stake and to the 2.7 billion that we had cut from the administration request, the $8 million for the school paled.
I have to question the fiscal integrity of the State Department and the news judgment of a reporter who would be concerned about a relatively small item when so much more was at stake. If money was the State Department's real concern, it would not have tried to persuade Congress to spend more rather than less for foreign aid. Obviously, the State Department had an ax to grind and used a willing reporter to grind it.
DAVID R. OBEY U.S. Representative (D-Wis.) Chairman, House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations and Export Financing Washington
Separation of church and state is a basic premise of the U.S. Constitution. After I read the Federal Page Dec. 29, I realized that Sen. Daniel Inouye apparently believes he can ignore the Constitution (Oliver North take note) and give 8 million U.S. tax dollars for the religious education of Jews living in France.
How did he do it? The senator declared them refugees and added the money to the appropriation bill. The French government, the U.S. government and the U.N. High Commission for Refugees do not consider them refugees -- but Sen. Inouye knows better. He became an expert on the Constitution and international affairs when he presided over the Iran-contra hearings.
How about all the Latin Catholic refugees in the United States -- would the senator give $8 million to build Catholic schools so these Latins could maintain their cultural heritage? No, I am not suggesting that the government fund religious education in America. What I am requesting is that Sen. Inouye find a way to stop this unconstitutional use of taxpayers' money, and that he practice what he preached during the Iran-contra hearings.
I do not believe that the campaign contribution the senator received from the individual connected with the Ozar Hatorah group caused him to abuse the Constitution, for even he must realize that an $8 million return on $1,000 is poor economics.
IRENE NOVAK Arlington